Archive

March 5th, 2016

Texas abortion case tests Kennedy's commitment

    With a new Supreme Court balance somewhere on the horizon, the end is coming for Justice Anthony Kennedy's dominance of the court. The abortion case Whole Women's Health v. Hellerstedt may be his swan song, and his last chance to leave a long-term impact on abortion rights.

    That's hugely significant for the case that'll be argued Wednesday. The fate of Texas's restrictive abortion laws turns on the interpretation of the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And Casey was the case in which Kennedy first formulated the vision of autonomy and dignity that led him to become a pioneer of constitutional rights for gay people. Casey is the heart of Kennedy's legacy -- and he'll want to preserve it.

    It may be hard to remember the politics of a decision from almost 25 years ago. It was the first opportunity for the five justices appointed by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to revisit Roe v. Wade. Reagan had benefited from opposition to the landmark abortion-rights decision, and was on the record as opposing abortion on demand. It seemed conceivable at the time that the court would flatly reverse Roe.

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Sanders has some thinking to do after Clinton regains momentum

    The Democratic calendar finally reached a good Hillary Clinton state on Saturday, and wow did she take advantage of it.

    She was expected to win big. Nate Silver projected that if the national race was a tie between Clinton and Bernie Sanders, she would win in South Carolina by about 20 percentage points. Instead, she romped by far more - as I write this, she's taking over 70 percent of the vote.

    The bottom line is that Sanders still hasn't found any way to appeal to black voters, who made up a large percentage of Democratic turnout. Without them no candidate can compete for a Democratic presidential nomination. The exit polls in South Carolina project Sanders lost the black vote by some 70 percentage points. That not only doomed him today, but also it dooms him in far too many states to have any serious chance of being nominated.

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Police officers are killed dealing with domestic violence and other problems we ignore

    The risks are real and the threats are much more complex than most people want to acknowledge.

    Every time cops like Ashley Guindon put on their badges and head out to work, the criminals they encounter are only one small part of their difficult, dangerous jobs.

    Nearly 1 million men and women in blue put their lives in jeopardy every day because they are too often the ones fighting the war on so many social issues that the rest of the nation refuses to properly address: domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, poverty and gun control.

    This was how Guindon - a 28-year-old Marine Corps Reserve veteran, double-degree college graduate in aeronautics and forensics, and newly sworn-in police officer - was killed Saturday on her first shift as a Prince William County, Virginia, police officer.

    She was an ideal rookie - smart, tough, well-educated and with enough opportunity in other career fields that a life on the beat had to be chosen out of conviction and passion for the work.

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From Mussolini's slogan to Trump's soundbite

    Donald Trump is getting lots of flak for allegedly retweeting a Benito Mussolini quote -- after a Gawker journalist set an elaborate Twitter trap for him. The joke is on the mastermind of the sting operation: The phrase "It's better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep" did not in fact originate with the Italian dictator.

    Trump's anti-intellectualism is so in-your-face that people who consider themselves intellectuals are affronted. They like to fact-check Trump to show how ignorant he is. When during a recent campaign appearance in South Carolina Trump told an apocryphal story of Gen. Jack Pershing executing Muslim rebels in the Philippines with bullets soaked in pig's blood, rebuttals were all over the media and social networks.

    This time around, however, the story everywhere, from The New York Times to the BBC, and even in Italian papers, is that Trump tweeted a Mussolini quote: "@ilduce2016: "It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep." - @realDonaldTrump #MakeAmericaGreatAgain"

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Colorado's rules disenfranchise most voters

    If you need proof that the two established parties don't represent enough Americans, come to Colorado, which holds its nomination caucuses on Super-Tuesday. In this swing state, neither Republicans nor Democrats have a plurality of registered voters, but the parties have rigged the rules so that voters have as little say as possible in the selection of presidential candidates.

    This year, Colorado's primary process provides an example of a broader problem with the country's political system: Far too many Americans aren't represented.

    Everyone I talked to in Denver has mentioned what is variously defined as Colorado's "frontier mentality," "Wild West feel" or "libertarian streak." The state is the birthplace of the Libertarian Party, which has 24,000 active registered voters here, but the independent voters are mainly registered as unaffiliated. There are 1.3 million such independents compared with 1.1 million each for the Democrats and Republicans.

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Colorado's isn't the best way to legalize pot

    Marijuana is less of an issue in the 2016 election campaign than could be expected: This is, after all, the first presidential race after Colorado and Washington state legalized the recreational use of pot. That could be because the costs and benefits of legalization are not obvious yet, or because it's already too late to strangle an entire emerging industry that is taking its first steps toward political influence.

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson are the only candidates still in the race who say unequivocally that as president, they would enforce federal laws against marijuana possession in the states that have legalized recreational use. Billionaire Donald Trump, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich say it's a states' rights issue. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders would even allow marijuana businesses to use federal banks. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she's watching the Colorado and Washington experiments with an open mind.

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March 3rd

Why Donald Trump is remarkably dangerous to the Republican Party

    As it's become more and more clear that Donald Trump is the odds-on favorite to be the Republican presidential nominee, there's been considerable speculation about what he could mean for the broader GOP, particularly as the party tries to hold its Senate majority and consolidate its House margins in the 2016 election.

    The answer: Nothing good - and perhaps something very bad.

    While Trump's hard-line immigration policy (send 'em back, build a wall, make Mexico pay for it, etc.) has caused most of the hand-wringing within establishment GOP circles, the real danger for the likes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., is not in that single issue. It's in Trump's remarkable unpredictability and seeming willingness to say things for the sake of shock value, and then inexplicably stand behind them - in fiercely unapologetic always.

    Trump's performance on the Sunday talk shows is indicative of this tendency.

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What does it say about the GOP that Trump is the white supremacists' candidate?

    "Donald Trump is not a racist, but Donald Trump is not afraid. Don't vote for a Cuban, vote for Donald Trump." This is not the first white supremacist pro-Trump robocall by a group calling itself "American National Super PAC," but it hits the same low notes as the last one. "We don't need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people," said the first call, which went out to Iowa and New Hampshire voters ahead of the presidential nominating contests in those states. The group's pre-Super Tuesday call, which has reportedly gone out in Vermont and Minnesota, says, "The white race is dying out. . . . Few schools anymore have beautiful white children as the majority." Both calls identify the person responsible for the message as a "farmer and white nationalist," and both end the same way: "Vote Trump . . . This call is not authorized by Donald Trump."

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Trump's promises don't hold up to fact-checking

    A powerful force driving Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders in the presidential race is the frustration of grass-roots voters that politicians in Washington haven't kept their promises.

    Democrats, though still high on President Barack Obama, are upset about an economic recovery that benefited Wall Street more than Main Street, top executives more than workers.

    The anger is more palpable among Republican voters, who ushered in big congressional majorities for the party, expecting to end Obamacare, reduce the size of government, cut taxes and bolster national security. None of it happened.

    With that track record of broken promises and with Trump emerging as the likely Republican presidential nominee, it's good to look at his prominent promises and the critiques:

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The Trump Tower of Egotistical Exaggeration and Lies

    When the presidential primaries began more than a year ago, the two leading candidates were Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democrats and Jeb Bush for the Republicans. It seemed at that time that there would be another Clinton–Bush race in the general election.

    That, as any voter knows, has changed drastically.

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